What Wall Street Would Look Like According to The Onion

Michael Teague  |

Scanning the financial media, one could be forgiven for getting the impression that the prevailing concerns of the moment for the financial community are things like ever-higher yields on the 10-year Treasury note, the ostensibly real possibility of the Federal Reserve finally cutting back on stimulus, the housing market recovery, jobs, tensions in the Middle East, and so on.

Indeed, Wall Streeters these days are in no shortage of weighty and serious issues that must be contended with, which leaves the financial media with the daunting task of translating, explaining, and contextualizing the happenings of the day into a more digestible and actionable format.

Surely, however, it would be safe to assume that a substantial portion of those who spend such a great deal of time digesting all of this information have experienced that feeling of being overwhelmed by all of it. Whether through sheer overload that leads to a sort of semantic satiation, or because of constant bad news about unabated malfeasance at the nation’s largest financial institutions that seems to be in no shortage at any given time, readers can be forgiven for being tempted to shake their fists at the heavens and ask “why?” or “to what good is all of this?”.

One news site, however, takes a refreshing perspective on finance. The Onion, the nation’s premier satirical news outlet, has garnered massive popularity and critical acclaim over its 25 years of existence. A look at the paper’s business section provides a far different perspective on the goings on of the world of finance and enterprise. This is not to say that reading about Wall Street from The Onion’s perspective will necessarily provide readers with a more upbeat perspective, and it certainly doesn’t give much in the way of actionable information. It is quite possible that the paper’s news items will actually make you more depressed than respectable financial journalism.

The upswing is that its flippant take on the news is likely to cause cathartic laughter, of the variety that you’ll probably have to stifle with all your might because you’re at the office, sitting at your desk, and droning away at your mundane, soul-erasing job. For investors who need to lighten up, consider Wall Street from The Onion’s perspective:

-As the dotcom boom was revving up in the late 1990’s, the Dow was heading to new territory, crossing 10,000 for the first time ever. The paper conducted a survey of random citizens of various backgrounds and professions in order to paint a picture of the general mood of the time.

-But The Onion’s editorial board on the whole seems to take a much dimmer view of Wall Street. This report on new trends in working habits for businessmen is more on the light-hearted side, but this “newswire” item about a dying Wall Street executive is brutal.

-The Onion covers other news relevant to Wall Street executives, such as when KFC hired new CEO back in April. It must be said, however, that the paper doesn’t seem to be too keen on CEOs in general.

-The paper also covers trading action through its “Stockwatch” page that provides incredibly useful information to investors and traders.

-There is also some unique coverage of crime on Wall Street. This piece about AIG, and main street’s love for the big banks, is masterful piece of investigative journalism.

-For those of us who are dumbfounded by news item after news item about white collar crime, this recent article is a must read for anyone seeking to understand what motivates the world’s biggest financial institutions to do what they do.

-The Onion does seem to apply journalistic scruples rather selectively. This hit-piece about Goldman Sachs’s ($GS) relationship with the elderly community, for instance, is sure to have some fund managers crying foul.

-But The Onion doesn’t just harp on the big banks. They spread the blame equally, as can be seen in this piece from last month about economists and analysts.

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